We planned a trip on the new NCL Breakaway for late July and just returned. I cannot begin to tell you how disappointed I was with the level of service from start to finish on our trip.
To begin with I booked online at NCL.com. I called NCL a couple times to confirm items and ask about airport transfers. The gentlemen who tried to help me said there must be sold out as the rate for a transfer from La Guardia to Manhatten was coming up at $39m dollars. Yes, you read that correctly. I inquired about a hotel in NYC for the night before our cruise and was quoted $450 which included the $15.00 transfer to the ship on Sunday. I booked a room on Hotwire for $250.00 and stayed at the Michelangelo which is an amazing hotel on 51st Street not far from Times Square. We had to pay for a cab ride to the terminal but saved almost $200.00 from the get-go.
Checking on-board was a please after a wait outside sorting out where to drop your bags. Unexpected bonus was they take your ID photo at check-in, rather than on the gangway as many other lines do. Security was efficient and timely. There was quite a contingent of security on-board. Far more than I believe necessary having worked for Princess Cruises in the past.
The passenger to crew ratio is terrible and lines everywhere were experienced. The cabin (aft facing balcony on deck 14) was very nice. The layout was odd as the hair dryer was next to the fridge but one makes due. The mini bar was stocked with overpriced items as one would expect but then convenience does cost a bit more if you cannot live without a Pepsi at 2:00am. We removed some items to put fruit in our fridge and were charged for them. I pointed this out to our cabin steward who acknowledge the item but the $25 charge was never corrected.
I have to say our cabin steward(ess)was the worst I have encountered in 30+ years of cruising. She spent more time in the passageway on her cell phone than cleaning cabins. Some days she did not stop in until 3:00pm for her morning rounds. If you were in the cabin she would refuse to clean and say just dial 00 when you are ready. This meant another memeber of the crew have to come up to clean our cabin.
Room service trays sat in the passageways for up to 15 hours. I watched as crewmember after crewmeber vacuumed and moved around them with no thought of maintaining the ship. This was not only a sanitation issue but a safety one as well. Passengers in wheelchairs and scooters were hard pressed to clear the obstacle course of dishes up and down the passageways. In my experience if the crew does not maintain the passenger areas, they are not maintaining the crew only areas of the ship either.
There was little Free Style about this trip. I had booked The Deluxe Romance Package before sailing. The flowers and amenities were excellent. However, when I inquired about dinner reservations at Le Bistro which was included with the package I was told we could only do so on-board and not in advance online as many had. When we made reservations 8:45pm was the earlist seating available and we only had 2 of the 7 nights to choose from. The food was mediocre and I've received better service at Waffle House. The server spent her time chatting with passengers she had met earlier on the voyage, not even bothering to offer coffee with our dessert. When we got up to leave she said we couldnt go yet and asked us to sit back down so she could prepare the check. She was in such a hurry she charged us again for a prepaid dinner. When I inquired at Guest Services they offered to check into it and I provided a copy of the package confirmation letter which I carried with me. I went to Guest Services a second time at which point The Assistant Guest Services Manager spoke to me. He said he would check into it again and took my original confirmation. When I said I had provided one yesterday, he said it should be ok in a few hours and that he would have to check with someone at Le Bistro before a decision could be made.
Shows were difficult to get as the showroom is so small. If you did not know to make reservations for the show by the end of the first sea day you could not get a reservation at all. The shows Rock of Ages and Burn the Floor were decent. No award winning enteriners on this ship with the exception of Slam Allen in the Blues venue.
We were able to enjoy the waterslides while in port but my friend who is 52, but only 4'11 and 85 pounds could not use the slide that drops you for safety reasons. She was too light and did not have the body weight to create enough momentum to make the high arching turn. I commend NCL on checking each person before they can use the slides to make sure they can do so safely.
Burmuda was fabulous. Temps 80-85 with water temps @89. The catamaran snorkel trip was a highlight of our first port day. We were especially glad we took the tour as the guide explained we were there during their 4 day independence day celebration. What this meant is that almost every shop and restuarant on the sland would be closed. This bit of information would have been nice to know before we arrived.
The Shore Excusion staff at the dock was lazy and misdirected people multiple times. We made our tour only because we read reviews ahead of time that talked about similar experiences and asked 6-8 different tour operators where to meet to make our particular tour.
I took advantage of the laundry special which was not a bad deal. $25.0 for a bag full of clothes. The down side you turn them in Wednesday by 9am to have back by 5pm on Friday. @8pm on Friday after our turndown service still no clothes. I call Guest Services who tracked our laundry down and had it delivered. The service was good with the added touch of being folded into a nice wicker basket.
Getting off the ship was a breeze. Customs took our form without looking at it with no passport check at all. We carried our luggage off the ship and were off by 7:45am. Wish we had not been told to schedule flights after 2:00pm as thet made for a long wait at the airport.
Overall, this was the single worst cruise experience I have had as a passenger. I could not recommend NCL to my friends or family. When an NCL Cruise Consultant called me today to help book another cruise, I told him of my experiences. He said he has not received a single complaint about the Breakaway.
I thanked him for calling and tadvised him that I would not be bookign another NCL cruise.